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Insight #8 August 20, 2016
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Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Jesus Showed Sympathy
August 20, 2016

 
"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God."

The 1888 message produces obedience, obedience to all the commandments of God. Typically when we think of obedience, we limit our thinking to what we don’t do as outlined in the 10 Commandments. But, that is not ALL the commandments of God. In fact, when we limit our thinking to only the external behavior of the 10 Commandments, we are missing what Jesus called the greatest commandment.

"35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him, "‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[d] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[e] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matt.22:35-40).

So if we are truly experiencing the power of the 1888 message, we will receive the righteousness of Christ, which will manifest itself in obedience to ALL the commandments of God, the greatest of which are Love to God, and Love to Man! This was meant to be the product or result of the preaching and believing the 1888 message. The message of Jones and Waggoner was not meant by God to merely introduce new doctrinal factors into the Seventh-day Adventist fundamental beliefs. The message was meant to produce in us a supreme love for God and a horizontal love for others.

In the life of Jesus, we have the forerunner going before us to show us the way to love God and love others. Jesus "kept the commandments" in, "showing sympathy". This is the practical manifestation of commandment-keeping. If we are not showing sympathy, we are not commandment keepers, and are not recipients of what the 1888 message was and is meant to accomplish.

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27). We frequently focus on "keeping ourselves unspotted from the world", and interpret that as keeping ourselves separate from those in the world. But James is actually giving us a definition of keeping oneself unspotted from the world, and that definition is to visit the orphans and widows in their trouble. The philosophy of the world is to look out for number one – maybe donate to the United Way for a few dollars, or maybe give to the Salvation Army at the mall at Christmas, or maybe even donate online a few hundred dollars when there is a major natural disaster.

But James definition of "showing sympathy", of loving God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself, of keeping oneself unspotted from the influence and attitude of the world, of "obedience to all the commandments of God", is to give priority to the needs of the less fortunate in their individual circumstances by personal visitation and assistance – this is "showing sympathy". That is the fruit of the 1888 message. Anything less than this doesn’t do justice to what the result of ATJones and EJ Waggoner’s message was meant to accomplish.

"Obedience to all the commandments of God" is showing sympathy to the needs of others in step with Jesus. This will never ever occur by merely greater personal will power or effort. This will only occur as the love of Christ, manifested throughout His life and at Calvary, is discerned and understood and appreciated from the heart. Every other method is self-motivated.

May we appreciate that "obedience to all the commandments of God" is not constituted merely in NOT doing the behaviors listed in the 10 Commandments merely, but in living out the ministry of showing sympathy to others as Christ did. This is and will be the result of truly appreciating and believing the 1888 message.

EJ Waggoner: "A question concerning religious liberty is one that pertains to religion; and where should we go for information concerning religion, except to the Bible? There we learn that "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27.

How can one keep himself "unspotted from the world"? Again we read the answer, in the statement that the Lord Jesus Christ "gave Himself for us, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." Gal. 1:4. Therefore true religion is a religion of our Lord Jesus Christ.